For new immigrants who may not yet have established patterns or identified information sources, information practices may be incredibly daunting and a very complex process. Upon arrival both the information needs that newcomers must satisfy as well as the barriers to accessing this information are high. This poster describes the process of translocal meaning making, a specific set of information practices engaged in by migrants moving from the Philippines to Winnipeg, Canada. This process describes the manner by which newcomers came to make sense of and operate within the Winnipeg information context.
It explains how newcomers construct meaning as they migrated to Winnipeg, encountering and incorporating diverse, complex, and often contradictory information and information resources into their daily lives as they migrated and settled in an unknown information context. The process of translocal meaning making emerges from a qualitative study examining how new immigrants from the Philippines to Winnipeg, arriving through the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program, identify, use, and share information during the migration process and upon arrival to Canada.
Between November and March , fourteen respondents were interviewed, each arrived through the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program within one to four years of the date of interview. Translocal meaning making emerges as a main finding from study interviews and is represented visually below as Table 1. Translocal meaning making is a five step process in which study respondents engaged as they prepared to leave the Philippines, migrated to Winnipeg, and settled in the city.
In other words, the process of translocal meaning making describes how respondents actively and individually engage in producing meaning out of the socially located information that they are provided or encounter throughout the migration and settlement process. Within Information Studies, Dervin articulates the most well known framework of meaning making. This process is called translocal meaning making, because it is embedded in the various situatedness in respondents' lives and is sensitive to respondents' meaning making practices over time.
Imagining Winnipeg — Using stories, media, photos, and socially circulating narratives, respondents imagine Winnipeg, their life in Winnipeg, and develop specific expectations about arrival and settlement. Upon arrival, almost everything is an information practice. Most experiences are informational revealing how much is NOT known. Increasing sophistication and understanding of Winnipeg information landscape — Personal experiences and growing familiarity with the Winnipeg information landscape leads to a greater understanding of the local and cultural context and promotes ongoing reflection and reconsideration of Philippines to Winnipeg social imaginaries.
Previous research suggests that newcomers arrive to new countries largely unaware of the social, cultural, and informational context to which they are arriving Mehra and Papajohn, While this was certainly also true for respondents in this study, a significant departure from previous perspectives is that respondents arrived expecting, indeed imagining, that they did know a great deal about Winnipeg, including a basic understanding of the physical environment, settlement process, and what life in Winnipeg would be like.
In fact, respondents arrived with very specific expectations about life in Winnipeg and their settlement process. Thus, the first step in the translocal meaning making process takes place in the Philippines as respondents actively imagine their lives in Winnipeg. The process of imagining Winnipeg occurs within a broader cultural framework of globalization and international Filipino migration and is fostered through transnational connections and flows of information.
In this study, respondents frequently referred to well known narratives about migration circulating within their local and international social networks. These narratives, what Appadurai calls social imaginaries, deeply impacted respondents' expectations about migration to Winnipeg. Imaginaries were generated from stories and information respondents received from their social network ties in the Philippines, in Canada, and abroad. Respondents both actively sought and passively encountered information about life in Winnipeg through a variety of means, including: stories about migration told in childhood long before departure and during migration preparation; migration photos sent by family and friends abroad; visits to the Philippines from others already migrated; social media browsing of friends' sites who have migrated; and conversations with others in the Philippines, Winnipeg, and abroad about migration.
These encounters occurred both before and during the migration process. While numerous media and channels, governmental and institutional messaging about migration, and the historical legacies of colonialism between the Philippines, Spain, and the US contribute to the imaginary terrain through which Filipinos across the globe become transnationally linked, in this study it is the ongoing engagement with respondents' social network ties in the service of collecting information and preparing for migration that played the most significant role in shaping respondents' Philippines to Winnipeg imaginaries.
Translocal Connections across the Indian Ocean
This happens almost immediately as respondents see for the first time a physical environmental that does not match the picture they created for themselves prior to migration. Thus, step two of translocal meaning making is characterized by a profound information disjuncture. Upon arrival respondents encountered new information continuously, through the natural environment vegetation, temperature , the built environment buildings, streets, geography , and in their interactions with friends and family through daily conversations, observations of daily life, and specific inquiries of social network ties.
Almost all of respondents' early arrival encounters and experiences were informational in that respondents learned new things continuously, especially from their social networks ties, and largely tacitly through observation, conversation, and mimicry. Respondents came to understand and operate within the Winnipeg information landscape unevenly and iteratively. While moments of information disjuncture continued to occur for respondents throughout their settlement process, they came to be resolved more easily as respondents drew from their growing awareness of the Winnipeg information landscape.
In the third step of translocal meaning making, respondents gain increasing sophistication and understanding of the Winnipeg information landscape. Over time, respondents' direct encounters and experiences with Winnipeg based information landscapes provide respondents with a greater awareness of potential information resources and assists respondents in contextualizing and making sense of the advice they have received, particularly from their local social network ties. During this step, respondents' information practices move from general, unspecific, and very dependent on Manitoba supporters to explicit, independent, and considerably more sophisticated.
Upon arrival, respondents' information seeking strategies were often quite general and included various forms of browsing. For example, respondents drove around to find doctors' or dentists' offices as well as to orient themselves to the city. Over time respondents' information resources and practices became more diverse, varied, and sophisticated. Respondents started using official and institutional resources such as the migration settlement sector. These resources were often of great benefit to respondents, particularly in terms of finding career employment.
Respondents became increasingly proficient with complex labour markets, government sectors, and housing markets. In the fourth fourth step of translocal meaning making, respondents engage in ongoing reflection and reconsideration of the imaginaries and related settlement expectations that they brought with them from the Philippines. Goals and expectations are adjusted or rethought based on growing experiences and a greater awareness and understanding of the local Winnipeg context. In this, the last step of translocal meaning making, the social imaginary of both Winnipeg and the Philippines shifts as respondents contribute their own migration experiences and narratives back into social space.
This shift occurs as respondents tell their own migration stories to other potential migrants. These stories reflect a different moment in the history of Philippines to Winnipeg migration as well as respondents' own articulations of meaning making around this shift in space and time.
It should be noted, however, that the notion of shifting social imaginaries is an assumption that cannot be fully verified through this study. Indeed, it is unclear how resilient are social imaginaries in the face of disparate constructions of experience. This groundedness, I suggest, has little to do with deterritorialization as it is frequently evoked in the context of transnationalism, that is, as a detachment of culture from place.
Instead, it has more to do with deterritorialization in the sense that Ursula Heise uses it in her study Sense of Place and Sense of Planet , namely , a variety of processes, ranging from the local to the global, that complicate the relationship of culture to place without severing it completely 10, Cultural pluralism in this early Americanist understanding was considered an effect of differences between rather than within regions and thus tended to embrace the category as a decentralizing force to counter nationalist politics, often overemphasizing coherence and unity in its internal construction.
The poetry of Agha Shahid Ali and Arthur Sze is instructive in this critical and theoretical project because their texts put forward an ethics of place in which human-nature relations become the common ground for human-human connections:by exploring the ways in which the region of the American Southwest is and always has been open to translocal movements, their poems imagine non-exclusive communities across racial, ethnic, and cultural boundaries that are based on a shared experience of the land.
Although Ali had already published poetry in India during the s, his works received little critical attention before his death in , the same year his eighth collection Rooms Are Never Finished was a finalist for the National Book Award and nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
Also focusing on his final collections, more recent articles on Ali have begun to discuss issues of space and dislocation in the context of transnationalism rather than postcoloniality. I will first explore how Ali imagines the region as a translocal formation concerned with the relation of the local to the extra-local as well as with the material dimension of place, and then analyze how Ali uses intertextuality to establish transethnic affiliations based on shared translocal attachments.
The third stanza once more casts the speaker as a traveler. Due to the countless intertextual references and the ambiguity of the poetic language used in the few lines above, it is impossible to say whether we are to imagine the speaker on a train in the desert, watching the landscapes outside pass like paintings in a museum, or in a museum, describing his visit as a train ride.
What we are invited to do in either case, though, is to acknowledge the importance of actual, painted, and written landscapes in the poem and the strong emotional response they evoke in the speaker. On the basis of a shared attachment to the iconic desert landscapes of the American Southwest, the poem conjures up connections that transcend cultural and ethnic boundaries—it conjures up transethnic affiliations.
The Sonoran Desert is a subtropical desert that covers large parts of Arizona and California, but extends even further into several states in Northern Mexico. Divided by the U. Home to cities like Tucson and Phoenix, one of the fastest growing urban centers of the United States, as well as to several Native American reservations on both sides of the border, the region is culturally diverse and marked by a long and complicated history of settlement, displacement, and migration.
In the process the role of literature as a means to establish meaningful relationships to place comes to the fore.
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On the way, Shahid is contemplating the frozen cacti on the roadside and then muses:. Place in the poem also has a distinctly social dimension, since it links people of very different origins through their shared experience of particular geographies and natural phenomena as well as through their contact with and production of a variety of texts about them. This kinship of the immigrant speaker with Native American peoples in the Southwest plays a central role in several other poems in the collection, too.
What if, the poem seems to ask, one does not read this as a metaphor? The implications would certainly be of an eco-ethical nature.
Interestingly, it is not histories of rootedness but of uprooting and thus of a shared struggle for emplacement that emerge as the common ground for the migrant speaker and the Native American population of the area. Instead, such a meaningful human-place and human-nature relationship requires constant work, work which, especially in the case of the traveler, migrant, or victim of displacement, might have to rely heavily on an engagement with literature. This scarcity of criticism may be due to the fact that both thematically and aesthetically, his writing seems to have much less in common with the works of other diaspora poets like Meena Alexander or Naomi Shihab Nye than with the works of such nature poets as Gary Snyder.
The fact that Sze, at least at first glance, reads more like a nature than a diaspora poet, let alone an immigrant poet, may explain why what is to my best knowledge the first article on Sze appeared in the essay collection Ecopoetry: A Critical Introduction For it is in this collection, I argue, that Sze explores, more intensively than in his earlier books, how a meaningful relationship to the natural world may be imagined in a time of mass displacement and global environmental crisis.
Also like in previous collections, many poems in The Ginkgo Light consist of a series of fragments; disparate yet ultimately connected moments, perceptions, and memories that reach across time and space. The geographical locations evoked in the texts range from places in Japan and China to a variety of specific sites in North America. A family of owls, the speaker recounts, was scared away by the stench of a bushfire, for which the pleasant smells of local plants, Apache plume and peppergrass, was no match. It also suggests that the natural world can both make a home and thus become an agent of emplacement, and destroy homes and thus turn into an agent of displacement.
Such a dynamics acquires a range of new meanings in an era during which climate change produces increasing populations of climate refugees among animals as well as human beings. One of the textual strategies Sze uses in his poems for this purpose is a complex vegetation imagery which not only pays close attention to native flora and fauna, but also makes frequent notice of plants that were introduced to the region for agricultural or decorative purposes. Nonetheless, I would argue, Sze plays with notions of nativeness and transplantation when referring to plants that arrived in the American Southwest as a result of human travel and migration.
Both terms come from Spanish and, as they are inserted into the otherwise English poem, testify both to the linguistic and cultural after-effects of Spanish colonization and Mexican rule in the area as well as to the subsequent takeover by the United States in the process of westward expansion. After this introduction, the poem turns to a series of vignettes, all of which point to different instances of human suffering but also to the persistence of human desire, hope, and compassion.
Investment and Translocality
While exposure to air-pollution, like the experience of pain and the certainty of death, may indeed be something that unites everyone in the text, differences, the poem suggests, appear as soon as experience and perceptions are translated into words. By inserting these words in his text, the poet risks obstructing effective communication at the very moment that he is struggling to render the particularities of the world before him as precisely as possible.
In the poetry of a second-generation Chinese-American poet like Sze, who is concerned with Asian as well as American cultures and geographies, the example of the yardang is especially resonant.